Spring minestrone soup with pesto
- May 2014
- Serves 4
- Hands on time: 1½ hours, plus overnight soaking
If you thought soup was strictly for winter then you need to try this hearty Italian classic, made from baby gem lettuce, peas, beans and leeks – it’s a true taste of spring.
- Vegetarian recipes
- 17.6g (3.5g saturated)
- 42.3g (6.4g sugars)
- 150g dried borlotti beans
- 4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 banana shallots, sliced lengthways
- 100g baby leeks, trimmed and halved lengthways
- 1 large carrot, finely chopped
- 1 tsp fennel seeds
- 3 garlic cloves, sliced
- 1.2 litres good quality fresh vegetable stock (or chicken stock for non-vegetarians)
- 100g small dried pasta such as ditalini or broken spaghetti
- 100g fresh petits pois (shelled weight) or frozen peas
- 2 baby gem hearts
- Crusty bread to serve
For the pesto (makes 100g)
- Large bunch fresh basil, leaves picked
- Small handful fresh parsley leaves
- 1 tsp pine nuts, toasted briefly in a dry frying pan (make sure they don’t burn)
- 40g parmesan or vegetarian alternative, grated
- 1 large garlic clove, halved
- 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- Soak the borlotti beans overnight in a large bowl of water. The next day, drain the beans, then put them in a large pan of water and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat, then simmer for 45-60 minutes until tender. Drain and set aside.
- Gently heat the 4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil in a large heavy-based saucepan and fry the shallots, leeks, carrot and fennel seeds with a pinch of salt for 10 minutes or until softened. Stir through the garlic and fry for a minute. Add the cooked borlotti beans, then pour over stock to cover. Simmer gently for 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, bring a saucepan of salted water to the boil, then cook the pasta for 8-10 minutes, or according to the packet instructions, until al dente.
- While the pasta is cooking, make the pesto. In a food processor, whizz together the basil, parsley, toasted pine nuts, parmesan and garlic until smooth. Pulse in the extra-virgin olive oil until you have a stiff, concentrated pesto. Spoon into a small bowl.
- Stir the pasta through the soup. Taste and season generously. Add the petits pois/peas and gem hearts, then cook for a couple of minutes more. Divide the soup among bowls. Dollop on the pesto and serve with crusty bread.
You can make the pesto go further by loosening it with an extra 3 tbsp olive oil. If you like, use baby carrots but keep them whole, adding them when you add the beans.
Cook the beans and make the soup base (steps 1 and 2) up to 3 days ahead. Keep in a sealed container in the fridge. Freeze any leftovers in sealed containers for up to 3 months. Reheat from frozen. Keep the pesto in a sterilised jar for up to a month in the fridge, or freeze in ice cube trays.
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